Gen 4 Glocks--A Step Backward?
March 30, 2012
I love Glocks, specifically anything they make chambered in 9mm (apart from the "Baby Glock" Model 26, which is just too small for my hands). I shoot a Glock 34 in USPSA competition, and carry it every day (except for the month or two a year when I switch back to my SIG P226). I consider the Glock 19 to be the pistol against which all others should be judged when it comes to concealed carry.
All of that said, I have absolutely no use for any of the new Gen 4 Glocks, and think Glock has taken a step backward with this latest version.
The Glock is not a perfect handgun, but as far as I am concerned everything that was wrong with the Gen 3 Glocks has gone unchanged in the Gen 4s. What was wrong with the Gen 3s? Well, first and foremost, while the white dot front and white outline rear sights provide a good sight picture, the fact that the factory Glock sights are still made out of plastic still flabbergasts me (I don't get to use that word a lot, but it fits here). If there is one part of a carry gun that gets banged around the most it is the rear sight, and if you drop a Glock on its plastic factory sights, they will break or deform. I have seen plastic Glock sights worn down through holster friction by shooters just practicing drawing their pistol from the holster.
Another complaint I have with the Gen 3s is the trigger pull. Glock advertises a 5.5-lb pull, but'¦..no. Standard models do have 5.5-lb connectors in them, that is true, but those 5.5-lb connectors usually yield 6-8-lb pulls. I've observed that trigger pulls over six pounds or so start to degrade speed and accuracy when using a pistol, no matter your skill level. The "Practical/Tactical" Glock Models 34 and 35 have 3.5-lb connectors, which results in a much more reasonable 4-6-lb pull, depending on the gun.
Did Glock change either the trigger pull or the sights of the Gen 3s for the Gen 4? Nope. What did they do? Well, they put in a double recoil spring system to tame the recoil of the .40 S&W (and possibly correct reliability issues Glock .40s sometimes have when equipped with weapon lights)'¦.the only problem is they put this spring system into their 9mm models as well, which was a big mistake.
The single recoil spring on 9mm Gen 3 Glock 17/34 was an already hefty 17 pounds, designed to last the life of the gun and then some. Many competition shooters, myself included, replace the factory spring with a reduced power 13-pounder, and after 25,000 rounds I have yet to observe any wear on the gun from the lighter spring. The "new and improved" Gen 4 dual recoil spring was so heavy that many users were experiencing jams. These malfunctions were so commonplace that just barely two years after the introduction of the Gen 4, Glock began offering replacement recoil spring assemblies (RSAs) for all Gen 4 owners. That moves this subject officially from the "gun writer opinion" to the "documented fact" column.
I find it interesting that Glock has not specified what was wrong with the original design of their recalled RSAs. Have you ever heard of a car manufacturer announcing a recall due to a specific part, but not saying what the problem is?
Glock Gen 4 models have replaceable backstrap assemblies, but with only 4mm of difference between the smallest and the largest they don't make as much of a difference in the grip size as you'll see with a S&W M&P. Don't get me wrong, it's not all bad. The Gen 4 has a nice aggressive grip texture, and a larger magazine release button—but Glock has done away with the extended magazine releases on the Models 34 and 35. The extended magazine release on the Gen 3 Glock 34/35 really made a big difference, so this is a decision I just don't understand—you get rid of one of the few features that improve and differentiate your competition pistols from your standard design? Why? Did they even talk to their competition shooting team about this? I challenge Glock to give me a good reason for this.
I highly suspect the "Gen 5" Glocks will look a lot like the Gen 3s, or Glock will, due to customer demand (i.e. falling sales) decide to offer both the Gen 3 and Gen 4s, but until that happens I suspect the Gen 3 Glocks will attain the same status as the pre-'64 Model 70.